As I mentioned before, my wife planned this entire trip, and I did nothing but show up. If you’ve got a spouse who likes to take the reins, and you’re lazy like me, I highly recommend such an arrangement. Every day is like a surprise party. Today, Sarah drove us to the northern suburbs of Hobart, Tasmania, for a tour of a massive Cadbury Chocolate factory. Hannah and I were delighted.
The second we walked in, cheerful Cadbury employees began plying us with chocolates. While we waited for the tour: chocolates.
While perusing the gift shop: more chocolates.
Chocolates on our way into the bathroom to change a diaper.
I bent to tie my shoe, and when I stood up, someone was there with chocolates. It’s almost like they’re working on commission.
Until now, Hannah had never eaten chocolate before, but we decided to loosen up on this trip. She went totally apeshit. The look on her face every time she got another chocolate was like, “Who are these people, what is this place, and why don’t I live here?” She was literally trying to leap out of my arms toward a display of Crunchies.
The tour guide, an efficient old lady who remained polite as long as you didn’t waste her time, led us around the factory, which was built in 1921. “It’s the largest chocolate factory in the Southern Hemisphere,” she said proudly, though the cynic in me suspects there’s not a lot of competition, unless the Antarcticans have had a glacier-sized chocolate jones we don’t know about.
We watched men and machines work together in giant, deafening rooms to produce millions of Freddos and Caramellos and Crunchies an hour. In America, you’d have to don a hard hat and sign a waiver before being allowed in such a place. Here they give you a hairnet and ask you not to touch anything. (Hannah kept throwing hers on the floor.)
As far the eye could see, conveyor belts teemed with Boosts and Twirls and Flakes, Cherry Ripes and Picnics and Time Outs. It was February, and they’re already making chocolate roses for Mothers Day. We were close enough to lose an arm, and it would have been worth it.
When the tour guide mentioned something about Turkish Delights, Sarah asked, “What is a Turkish Delight?” There were audible gasps among our tour group: Who on earth hadn’t heard of Turkish Delight? (I hadn’t either, but I had my mouth was full at the time.) Hannah heaved her hairnet to the floor in protest.
By the end of the hour, my stomach was cramping and my teeth aching. I was done with chocolate for a while. When we were told that all visitors get to sign up for a chance a $250 “chocolate hamper,” I excused myself for the bathroom. Sarah and Hannah excused themselves for the gift shop, where Cadbury was offering bags of “rejects” for $2 a pound. You know, ones that were broken in the middle, made upside down, had third eyes, et cetera. Sarah and Hannah, neither of whom apparently tires of chocolate, bought three bags.
I was dumbfounded. “What the hell are we going to do with three pounds of jacked-up chocolates?” I moaned. Of course, Sarah was thinking three steps ahead, and already knew what to do with them. We were about to be guests in someone’s home in Melbourne, and nothing says “Housewarming Gift” like three pounds of jacked-up chocolates.